Radley College Geography Magazine
Volume 1, Issue 1—Lent 2011
fter years in the publishing wilderness, the Geographical Magazine makes a re‐ turn to social desks, hall tables and pigeon holes. A combined effort from dons and boys, the publication showcases recent activities in the Geography Depart‐ ment, together with providing news on recent geographical issues. Being a green bunch, the magazine is also available as an e‐document. We hope you enjoy it... Below are the winners of the Michaelmas Geographical photography competition:
Sunset in the Alps Tom Saunders (h) - Shell
Caption describing picture or graphic.
Traditional African dhow Tom Nokes (e) - 6.1
Britain under snow Piers Hugh-Smith (f) - Fifth
New York—old vs. new Sam Halliday (d) - 6.2
1-2-1 A chat with…. Mr. E.G. Pearson
ith the likes of ‘geo‐veterans’ Mr Harris and Mr Dean departing in the summer of 2010, who would the Radley Geo Department recruit to replace them? Well only the finest, of course. Mr Edward Pearson is hot out of Cambridge, into his first teaching job and talking to Hugh Wolton about college life, university and the famous Geo‐ Beard... So how have your first two terms at Radley been? They’ve been fantastic. Obviously it’s my first time teaching and it’s been a real eye‐ opener, in a positive way. You boys have been great fun to teach but I’ve also enjoyed the other parts of Radley life, including the sport and the general atmosphere. Any particular highlights? Obviously your 6.1 set (interviewers bribe? ‐ Ed.). Actually, all my sets have been great, together with coaching sport (rugby, hockey and real tennis) and some of the trips I’ve been on. Mainly I’ve just been working hard on my Geo! You’ve been studying Geography at Cambridge for the past few years; how was the experience and what advice could you give to boys considering that direction? At your school you might be one of the top Geo‐men but at Cambridge it’s suddenly a level playing field; everyone is very intelligent and this can be a shock to the system. Being in that environment was really good for me in terms of a character‐building exer‐ cise. But what it really did was allow me to pursue my interest in Geography and de‐ velop my academic skills. In terms of advice for other people, just make sure you dis‐ play a real passion for the subject; you are given a lot of time to research on your own and this passion will help motivate you. Remember—Cambridge, and universities in general, are not looking for the finished article; they want to see if you think like a ge‐ ographer and that means not taking things on face value. Look deeper and always seek other avenues in approaching a question. What inspired you study Geography in the first place? Some fantastic teachers, like you have here, who motivated me. But I also had friends who enjoyed the subject and we used to enjoy chatting about it. My sister is a geo‐ woman so it runs in the blood!
Why would you encourage boys to take up Geography as a subject? I feel geography is becoming more and more important as a subject in terms of its problem solving ability and also the ability to think across multiple disciplines. It can cater for many of your interests because it is such a broad topic and the variety of ma‐ terial you cover at school level is phenomenal. This makes understanding the world around you much easier and being able to go out and understand your surroundings is a really fascinating thing. You’re known as quite a serious physical geographer; what aspects of it do you prefer of the human side of geography? It mainly demonstrates my enjoyment of the outdoors. I’m not much of a city man and I enjoy going out into the countryside and understanding how the landscapes around me formed. Two of my other A‐Levels were Chemistry and Biology so that influenced me as well as the fact my dad was a scientist. So I enjoyed applying my knowledge to the Geo I was studying but also it stemmed for my love of the environment. So onto a more serious matter, after MJH and MFD left in the summer, there was con‐ cern over the thought that the Geo‐Beard might be going extinct. GJAH seems to be sole bearer of a Geo‐Beard at the moment but I see you like to sport a stylish ‘5 o’clock shadow’. Do you think a revival of this famous fashion style is imminent? Doc Hughes has tried to continue the tradition in what can only be described as a gen‐ tle way but I think it’s something I’ll probably have to grow into. However, I do think it is something you have to earn rather than just growing one straight away! I probably have a little while longer until I am worthy of one but I still don’t think I would do Mr Harris or Mr Dean any justice. Finally, how do you view Geography in the future? I hope it will continue on its path of being very problem orientated. Climate change is a massive issue at the moment and Geo is the only subject that can be used to look at both the causes and consequences or both the human and physical factors. I think peo‐ ple are beginning to realise this and the reputation of being bearded, arm‐patched, curry and pencil type guys is being removed. So I hope Geography will be taken more seriously when it is used to solve the problems that are arising around the world.
The Quick Q&A: Physical or Human: Physical Cricket or Real Tennis: Cricket Quadrat or Wind Meter: Quadrat Cheryl Cole or Rihanna: Cheryl Night Out or Night In: Night In Cuesta or Fold Mountain: Fold Mountain
Lager or Ale: Ale The Thames or The Severn: Severn The Warden or AER: No response! Spit or Salt Marsh: Salt Marsh Film or Theatre: Film Warne or Swann: Swanny
Geographical Society Lecture The Geography of War (CASJ) Is this Man the World’s Greatest Geographer?
ollowing a term’s absence, the Geographi‐ cal Society returned to the familiar territory of the SLT for 2011’s inaugural lecture, given by CASJ to an almost packed house.
CASJ began by looking at the military technological advances that have come from Geogra‐ phy, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and how Geography is so important in modern warfare that the US Naval Academy has its own Geography department! Following this he went on to address how the topography of a landscape influences where battles are fought. He chose the example of the Battle of Waterloo, speaking of how Wellington used the geography of the battlefield to conceal himself; consequently Napoleon could not see the extent of the British troops and thought their army was much larger than it actually was. CASJ then applied this to modern battles, noting that despite the US in the 2003 Iraq conflict being at a vast advantage through weaponry their advantage was lost to geography; dust storms were the major geographical factor as the vehicles could not advance. Added to that the lack of visibility resulted in several friendly fire incidents which doubled the time taken to reach Baghdad.
CASJ concluded with some speculation on what the future held for the relationship between geography and war. His first prediction was the rise of China as both an economic and mili‐ tary power that will compete with the USA for global influence, however in fairness this was not exactly speculation as the pie chart on the next slide showed that over the past 4 years China’s military spending has more than doubled from $122 billon to $380 billion, CASJ pointed out that this was still a long way away from the USA’s $741 billion but was a strong signal of intent from China. From this CASJ went on to suggest that perhaps there would be a new arms race, resulting in the decline of the US superpower as a result of the failure of the UN and NATO to bring wars to swift ends.
So what of Osama Bin Laden and what of CASJ’s suggestion that he is a good geographer? Well, the argument for this is twofold. The first point is that he uses the geography of the terrain around him to hide himself, so much so that he is on the list of the FBI’s top ten most wanted fugitives (and indeed if anyone reckons that they are better at geography than he is, and manages to find him, they’ll find themselves $27 million better off!). The second point is that he is able to run a global conflict across vast amounts of space, on a fairly large scale ,with very few resources. So the somewhat unfortunate conclusion that has to be drawn based on this evidence is that if Osama Bin Laden is not the world’s greatest geogra‐ pher he is certainly in the running for the post. H. Stephens (k)
Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami 11th March 2011 Location: Miygai (Northern Japan) Reason: The tsunami was triggered by the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan since records began. The tremor, meas‐ ured at 8.9 on the Richter Scale, hit at 2pm local time at a depth of approximately 24km. Death Toll: Estimated 10,000 so far but another 20,000 are unaccounted for. Damage Costs: £21.5 Billion Further Info: Fear of a meltdown in the nuclear reactor which would escalate the devastation even further. Thousands have already been evacuated.
Libyan Civil Unrest December 2010—March 2011 Location: Libya, North Africa—centred around Bengazi Recent uprising of anti‐Gaddafi forces against the 42‐year‐old autocratic rule in Libya has lead to drastic military measures by a coalition of nations. Reason: The human rights situation under General Gaddafi and in response to the recent revolutions in both Egypt and Tunisia, Libya’s neighbours.
Australian Floods December 2010—January 2011 Location: Queensland (North‐East) Reason: The floods were a result of heavy rainfall caused by Tropical Cyclone Tasha that combined with a trough during the peak of a La Niña event. The 2010 La Niña weather pattern, which brings wetter condi‐ tions to eastern Australia, was the strongest since 1973 This La Niña event caused a prolonged event of heavy rainfall over Queensland river catchments
Christchurch Earthquake 22nd February 2011 Location: Christchurch, New Zealand Reason: Though the earthquake meas‐ ured 6.9 on the Richter Scale, a signifi‐ cantly smaller earthquake than Japan, it had such a catastrophic effect because the focus was very shallow at 5km and the epicentre was only 10km from the city . Death Toll: 148 confirmed Damage Costs: NZ $ 6 Billion Further Info: New Zealand experiences over 15,000 quakes/yr and around 2% (300) are over 5 on the Richter scale.
Article: Climate Change or Global Warming?
lobal warming? I wouldn’t have thought so; we have just had the coldest December since 1959 with an average temperature of ‐1.4oc; this is more than 5 degrees below the average temperature seen in previous years. It was also been the coldest December for Northern Ireland and Scotland since 1910; temperatures hit a record ‐25.3oC!
Before you get the impression that I don’t believe in climate change or global warming, I just want to highlight the lack of clarity in our nomenclature to which we have become accustomed. To you and me what does the term ‘global warming’ actually mean? You and I have simply been led to believe that the world is going to warm up, ice will melt, sea levels will rise, human life and other mammals will be en‐ dangered by the changing weather patterns!! This could be partially right but it is simply an over exag‐ gerated theory, originally put forward by geoscien‐ tists in 1983 as the name for the overall rising tem‐ peratures and attendant consequences resulting from human activity. The term was adopted by the public in 1989. 2010 / 11—’The Big Freeze’ How about the term ‘climate change’? Most take it literally: the climate is warming up due to anthropogenic activities. However it is no scientific term, just a way of describing a long‐ term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns that range over millions of years – a short amount of time on a geographical scale but a long time in terms of humans recording and understanding weather patterns. It may just be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth. These terms are very loosely used and therefore lose their clarity. Therefore, are we experi‐ encing ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’? I want to refer to the two main physical phenomena which explain why we are seeing new climatic cycles: ‘El Niño’ and it’s opposite, ‘La Niña’. El Niño is the warming up of climates over short periods of time (months) in certain areas. This weather type is more common than La Niña allowing further studies of it. In recent months Australia has experienced it but not Europe. An El Niño does not always have to be followed by ‘La Niña’ so we experience them less often. In an El Niño climates become drier and more arid. We have seen this ef‐ fect in Australia and California that have suffered from droughts and bush fires. However it does not have to have global effects.
Europe, being in the North hemisphere, has ex‐ perienced a ‘La Niña’ for some months with cooler summers than usual (global warming ? Surely average temperatures should be going up...) and now more extreme winters bringing the early snow in December. ‘La Niña’ refers to the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific. The warmer western water in contrast gives it more energy for increased frequency of abnormal storms. This is not a global climate change, it is the change in separate microclimates around the world. The northern hemisphere will be colder and drier, clearly shown in the weather during December. A warmer globe on average Smoke from Californian forest fires might cause the area stretching from North America to mainland Europe to have more extreme winters. Maybe these are just recurring cycles that have been experienced many times before? These theories are still not under‐ stood in full, also being an inexact science they are always developing in many new dimen‐ sions. Anthropogenic activity could be partially blamed for changes to our climate. We can acknowledge that we produce a large amount of CO2 which is damaging the ozone layer, allowing the atmosphere of the Earth to warm up. Another factor is our rapidly in‐ creasing production of methane, often attrib‐ uted to cows, but it may surprise you to know that the largest producers of methane are actually rice paddy fields and landfill. Rising population will inevitably lead to increased output of methane, considered to be a signifi‐ cantly greater contributor to climate change than CO2. The UK landfills 85% of waste per year So is all this the fault of man or a natural phenomenon? Let’s not forget physical contribu‐ tors to climate change, such as methane released from wetlands, termites, gas hydrates, volcanic activity and, significantly, the melting of the permafrost. There is no way we can be sure it is anthropogenic as long term data records and accurate climate models are not cur‐ rently present. All this leaves us with dilemmas, such as the example of whether to open shipping lanes north of Canada. If we use them it will speed up the melting of the ice, how‐ ever if it is melting naturally it would do no harm to use them. Doing so would also save huge amounts of fossil fuel from being burnt, but again we have no way of testing whether taking these risks are worth it from an environmental point of view. What we do know is that we are overdue an Ice Age, so will the UK winter trends continue? Time will tell. Bertie Johnstone (c)